This is part of a series of posts in which we call out all 30 teams for their wily offseason moves and tragic offseason blunders.
The Rangers have had a Powerball offseason, taking a chance on some big names. The team could hit the jackpot, but will more likely bust.
First, the Rangers signed closer Eric Gagne, formerly the most dominant pitcher in the world, more recently the most injury plagued. But they kept reliable closer Alex Otsuka just in case.
Then Texas lured Sammy Sosa out of retirement in the hopes that his reaction time has increases as a result of spending a year sitting on his ass and eating Ho-Ho’s. How’s that for logic?
Of course, the Rangers’ problem has always been starting pitching. So this season they went out and signed reliable White Sox reliever Brandon McCarthy, who will be converted to a starter. He’ll join Kevin Millwood, Robinson Tejeda and Vicente Padilla (all Phillies cast-offs) in a rotation that won’t dominate, but might just get the job done. Oh, and Texas also signed RHP Bruce Chen, who went 0-7 last season with Baltimore, but reportedly dominated in winterball. He got a minor league deal.
That leaves the Rangers offense. The infield is pretty much set, with Mark Teixiera, Michael Young and Hank Blalock all hoping for all-star years. The big question entering spring training is who will play in the Rangers’ outfield. Kenny Lofton was signed in the offseason to play center field. Nelson Cruz has been told right field is his job to lose. That leaves Brad Wilkerson, who’s recovering from shoulder surgery, in left. If he doesn’t recover in time, Sosa could fill in. Or Frank Catalanotto. If Wilkerson is ready for opening day, Catalanotto shifts to DH. Then the Rangers have to figure out where to play Sosa. If they plan to sit him on the bench, well, I want to be there when they have that conversation.
The Rangers took steps this offseason to improve their starting rotation, bullpen and offense. So it’s not like they were asleep at the wheel. But many of their acquisitions fall under the high risk/high reward category. And those types of gambles almost never pay off.
Offseason grade: B (extra credit is available if Gagne returns to form)
Acquisitions: Eric Gagne, Kenny Lofton, Brandon McCarthy, Bruce Chen.
Losses: Gary Matthews, Jr., Rod Barajas, Adam Eaton.
Projected Lineup, Rotation and Closer:
CF Kenny Lofton .301/.360/.403, 32 SB
SS Michael Young .314/.356/.459, 103 RBI
3B Hank Blalock .266/.325/.401, 16 HR
1B Mark Teixiera .282/.371/.514, 110 RBI
DH Frank Catalanotto .300/ .376/.439, 56 RBI
LF Brad Wilkerson .222/.306/.422, 15 HR
RF Nelson Cruz .223/.361/.385, 22 RBI (41 games)
C Gerald Laird .296/.332/.473, 7 HR
2B Ian Kinsler .286/.347/.454, 14 HR
RHP Kevin Millwood 16-12, 4.52
RHP Vicente Padilla 15-10, 4.50
RHP Brandon McCarthy 4.7, 4.68
LHP John Koronka 7-7, 5.69
RHP Robinson Tejeda 5-5, 4.28
CL Eric Gagne 0-0, 1 SV